26 May 2006

My First Visit to the Doctor

Last Tuesday and Wednesday was SALAC – the South African Library Acquisitions Conference. I was scheduled to speak on Wednesday (17 May), and I was really looking forward to it. The conference organizers wanted PowerPoints and papers one week in advance of the conference so that they could put them all on CDs for the attendees. Normally, I would have been finishing up a PowerPoint a day or two before being scheduled to speak, and it is very seldom that I’d have an actual, full-fledged paper prepared! But because they wanted those things in advance, I did them, and so I was really, really prepared. It was my first public speaking opportunity here, and I was excited about it. Plus, I was happy that I made it onto the program and our competition did not! Sorry, Alison. :)

I woke up Tuesday with a slight cough, but thought it was only the beginning of a cold. As the day wore on, though, I felt worse and worse. Rehette finally talked me into skipping the cocktail reception that evening and took me home early. By the time I got settled in enough to take my temperature, it was up to 102F! Yikes! I took all kinds of over-the-counter drugs, and went to bed early that night, hoping against hope that I’d be cured during the night. No such luck. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I still had quite a fever and felt miserable. I sent email to Jean, Rehette and Colleen, apologizing for my absence and asking Colleen to read my paper at the conference. Then I hunkered down in bed to get better.

Nothing doing. When I woke up on Thursday morning, my fever was 102.4F! I finally decided that it was time to visit a doctor. A few months ago I’d gotten a recommendation from the young lady in a salon that I occasionally go to, so I called up Dr. Trish Campbell for an appointment. I was able to get an appointment for that afternoon.

After filling out the requisite paperwork, I sat in the waiting area. After just a few minutes there, a cute, petite, stylishly dressed youngish woman with an Irish accent called me in. She led me into an office, turned around, and introduced herself as Dr. Campbell. I was a bit taken aback, both by the fact that she herself had retrieved me from the waiting area, and because she was younger than I expected. I told her as much, and she admitted to being 37. Old enough, I guess, to have a little experience under her belt. As she was asking about my history, I mentioned the hysterectomy and she expressed surprise since I was “so young.”

“I may be older than you think,” I said. I told her that I just turned 44, and she was shocked. She thought I was roundabout 28! I LOVE HER ALREADY!!

(I’ve experienced this more than once here, and I think the actual fact is that women age more quickly here. Maybe the sun is stronger at this high altitude, I dunno. But I’m taking precautions to protect my skin!)

After reviewing my history and current symptoms, Dr. Campbell took me into a tiny little examining room just off her office. She took all the readings herself – temp, blood pressure, pulse – then followed with an exam of lungs, throat, etc. She announced that I had “acute pharyngitis” – a really bad sore throat, man. She also asked me for a urine sample, which she herself collected and tested (for blood, I think; it was fine). She then escorted me to the lab so they could draw some blood. And when the lab results were in the next day, she herself called to discuss with me.

The whole visit was fine, and not that different from visiting a doc in the U.S. except that she did more of the work herself, rather than being assisted by a nurse or lab tech or some such person.

Here was the biggest difference – I do not yet have medical insurance in SA (still have it in the U.S., not to worry), so I had to pay for all of this on my own. The doctor visit, the lab work, and all the drugs she prescribed for me (antibiotics, codeine cough medicine, antihistamine, pain/fever reducer, and some sort of tablets to help prevent yeast infection from the antibiotics) came to around R700 – less than $120.00. WOW!

I’m feeling much better, by the way. Spent most of that weekend in bed, and came back to work on Monday (22 May). I still have a lingering cough and some congestion but feel fine otherwise.